During a National Crisis, Rollex Fails to Recognize its Essential Employees

| May 7, 2020

At a time when normal daily activities such as taking public transportation to work, enjoying a meal break with longtime co-workers, or working side-by-side at a manufacturing plant put employees at risk to contract COVID-19, many employers have chosen to recognize this risk by paying additional compensation, or “hazard pay.”   Unfortunately, this is not the case for Rollex. Although legally required under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to offer their employees paid sick leave if the employee contracts the virus or has to take a leave of absence from work due to the virus, Rollex isn’t willing to hazard pay or additional compensation.

This comes as a great disappointment to the over sixty-five employees who are members of Teamsters Local 727 and work at the siding manufacturing facility located in Elk Grove Village. Despite the statewide stay-at-home order in place through the end of May, employees with jobs that have been deemed “essential” must continue to report to work, including the employees at Rollex.  Over the past few weeks, many Rollex members have reached out to the Union to ask if they will receive appreciation pay like their fellow Teamster brothers and sisters who work in other industries represented by 727 have.  It is disgusting that we must tell them that Rollex has simply said “no.”

Since the onset of the pandemic, the Union has continued to demand that Rollex provide additional compensation to its hard-working essential employees during these frightening times.  While many other employers have stepped up and shown their union employees the appreciation they deserve, Rollex management instead says that “the best focus for employees…is holding on to the work we have and maintaining jobs.” Rollex has not provided any documents to support its implied claims that hazard pay would result in less work or jobs. While the Union agrees that job loss must be avoided, Rollex’s actions do not go unnoticed and the Union will continue to demand that Rollex do more.

“Like other Local 727 members who are performing essential work, Rollex employees should be compensated in a way that reflects the new dangers they face simply by reporting for work – dangers that can be inadvertently passed on to family members and loved ones at home.  It’s shameful that Rollex management isn’t willing to acknowledge that it is their employees that keep them in business. Essential does not mean expendable—Rollex must protect and pay their frontline, essential workers now,” said John Coli, Jr., Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 727.

According to news recent reports, a growing number of congressional members have proposed that the next stimulus bill include mandatory hazard pay for essential workers.  In early April, Senate Democrats introduced a proposal that included a COVID-19 “Heroes Fund,” through which the federal government would finance “premium pay” for essential workers.  Local 727 will continue to monitor the status of this proposal and if it is passed, we will hold all eligible employers accountable for passing this premium pay along to their employees.

Any questions should be directed to Business Representative Melissa Senatore at (847) 696-7500.

Nothing in this article should be read as the union’s waiver of any legal argument, position or grievance(s), or as a waiver of any rights, arguments, or defenses under any contract, collective bargaining agreement, or applicable law. The union does not forfeit its right to make any and all supplemental arguments.

Category: Union News

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